Hungary 0-1 Portugal

In a match that few will revisit as a classic example of Portuguese footballing prowess, the Seleção overcame fiercely stubborn resistance from ten-man Hungary and ran out of Budapest with three crucial points.

André Silva headed home a Cristiano Ronaldo cross in the face of uncompromising treatment from the home side who very nearly snatched a dramatic winner deep in stoppage time.

Just 3 days removed from the resounding 5-1 victory over the Faroe Islands in Porto, Fernando Santos did make several key changes to the starting XI. Despite a wonderful performance on Thursday, William found himself second favorite to Danilo while Fabio Coentrão earned his first cap since October 8th, 2015 in place of Eliseu. 

Bernardo Silva was also withdrawn for Gelson, whose scintillating form with Sporting proved too difficult for Fernando Santos to overlook a second time. Santos replaced Fonte with Bruno Alves to address the Hungarian's threat from set pieces. 

Both sides initially struggled to gain a foothold in possession but it was Portugal who created the first attacking threat of the match. Ronaldo cut inside from the left and uncorked a wickedly swerving drive that very nearly deceived Gulacsi with its movement, but the Hungarian keeper managed to palm it over the crossbar to safety. Portugal remained in the ascendancy winning a series of corners, and Ronaldo really should have scored in the 8th minute with a glancing header that flashed wide of the right post.

Portugal flatly refused to grant Hungary the space to counterattack with Danilo often involved in wrestling back possession in midfield. The Porto midfielder sliced a shot wide of goal before Moutinho had a gdalbound shot blocked. 

But both sides were dealt a blow starting in the 27th minute as Coentrão sustained a left thigh injury and had to be withdrawn for Eliseu. While the match was still in a relative lull following the substitution, Tamas Priskin was shown a straight red card for a deliberate elbow on Pepe leaving the Besiktas defender in a heap with blood trickling from his brow.

Hungary's aggressive and physical approach continued to break the flow of the game as Cédric required medical attention to address a cut on his cheek following an encounter with Dzsudzsak. Despite their man advantage, Portugal labored to break down the Hungarian's stubborn defense but still should have taken the lead as the first half wound to a close. André Silva found space through the left side of the penalty area, but his effort was straight at Gulacsi allowing the keeper to make a routine save. 

Santos made no changes to start the second half, and the home side remained in a low block formation to limit goalmouth opportunities. But Portugal forced their way through nonetheless when Ronaldo got free down the left and crossed into the box for André Silva, who risked being kicked in the face to bundle the ball over the line in the 48th minute.

Hungary went for and very nearly found an immediate reply when a poor clearance broke for Patkai to strike his effort just the wrong side of the left upright. Hungary made their first change in the 60th minute and Bernardo Silva was introduced in place of Gelson minutes later to leverage more pressure on the Hungarian backline. 

João Mário got loose down the left but his cross was cut out at the vital moment. Portugal lowered the passing tempo to that of a routine training session, but Hungary refused to chase the match in spite of their need for points. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Cédric's cross was deflected into the path of Ronaldo but his goalbound effort was superbly blocked by Fiola.

Hungary very nearly found the most unlikeliest of equalizers at the death, but in the end Hungary's crude, overly physical approach was insufficient to deter Portugal from securing all three points. It was a contemptuous affair that will hardly have endeared the two sides to each other, but Portugal remain on the same collision course with Switzerland that they have traveled since the opening match of qualification. 

Danilo, Cédric, and the Portuguese defensive effort was superb in preventing any meaningful threat to Patricio's goal while Gelson may yet lament his inability to assert himself in a match that seemed well suited for his particular brand of football. Moutinho, though unspectacular, was efficient in his role as midfield manager while Ronaldo once again proved to be the creative outlet that Portugal desperately needed to overcome the resolute home side. Fabio Coentrão's untimely injury and Eliseu's subsequent performance will once again painfully remind Portugal fans of the glaring hole at left-back in the absence of Raphael Guerreiro.

Portugal will travel to Andorra for their penultimate match of World Cup qualification on October 7th.


by Nathan Motz

Starting lineups

Hungary: Peter Gulacsi, Attila, Richard Guzmics, Tamas Kadar, Mihaly Korhut, Gergo Lovrenscsics (Roland Varga, 78'), Balazs Dzsudzsak, Mate Patkai, Akos Elek (Pinter, 68'), Tamas Priskin, Marton Eppel (Daniel Bode, 61')

Portugal: Patrício, Cédric, Pepe, Alves, Coentrão (Eliseu, 28'), Danilo, João Moutinho, João Mário, Gelson (Bernardo Silva, 63'), André Silva (Ricardo Quaresma, 86'), Ronaldo


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  • Guest - Arnaldo

    FIFA needs to punish Hungary and its coach for their dirty tactics on the pitch. As A Bola put it, Adrien against the fight club". The fouling, dirty play threw off the team. Anyone that watched Santos' post game interview could tell he wasn't happy that the team allowed themselves to get thrown off stride. He also did a fine job of keeping the team and staff from getting caught up in the on field BS. One Hungarian coach was ejected during the game, besides the four yellows( should have been more) and the one red. I give up on Coentrao. He showed flashed of his old self, but is as fragile as a porcelain doll. And Eliseu, tough defender, but can you listen to the coach and stop lobbing into the box from distance when he tells you not to. For that alone he should be off the team.

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  • Guest - jon/usa

    Steve, while I do believe that you raise some important important points, I completely disagree with your assertion that this current crop of players isn't significantly better than the teams we had in the days of Carlos Queiroz and Paulo Bento.

    Let's start up top. Andre Silva is only 21, so he is still several years away from reaching his prime. Are you really going to tell me that he isn't a clear upgrade from the likes of Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida? I'm not saying that he's going to be the next Ronaldo, but I definitely think he will be good enough to succeed at a high level.

    In the Bento era, our only half-decent impact sub was Silvestre Varela. He was by no means a terrible player, but he certainly wasn't a word-beater. How can you compare our winger/attacking midfielder options of 2008-2014 with the players we have now: Quaresma, Bernardo Silva, Gelson Martins, Bruma, etc? Sure, Quaresma was certainly quicker back in the day, but I would argue he has been far more mature, consistent, and productive in his 30s. Bernardo is already a world-class playmaker. Anyone who watched him play regularly last season at Monaco in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League will back me up. His football IQ is through the roof and his touch and close-control are up there with the very best in world football.

    Now to the midfield. In the Queiroz/Bento era, our midfield consisted of Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles, and Miguel Veloso -- with Ruben Amorim, Carlos Martins, Tiago, and Pedro Mendes also getting some minutes every now and then. Moutinho was an elite #8 at that time and he is still a great player just weeks before his 31st birthday. Raul Meireles was an industrious and technically decent, but was by no means an elite midfielder. Miguel Veloso had above average passing range and was a good set-piece taker, but he was never a proper defensive midfielder.

    Our current midfield options include: Joao Moutinho, Adrien Silva, Joao Mario, Pizzi, Renato Sanches, Bruno Fernandes, Andre Gomes, William Carvalho, and Danilo. Now some of these players certainly have more quality and potential than others (Gomes), but there is no doubt that our current midfield options are miles better than they were in the past. Joao Mario is actually a fantastic player. He may seem a little conservative in his inverted winger role since he is not a proper winger, but there is no denying that he is a quality player -- certainly a huge upgrade from guys like Raul Meireles, Ruben Amorim, and Carlos Martins.

    I think it is also way too early to call Renato Sanches a flop. Did anyone really expect an immensely talented, yet undeniably raw 19-year-old with less than one full season of professional football under his belt to establish himself as an undisputed starter on a team where he would have to compete with Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, and Xabi Alonso for minutes? Of course he wasn't ready to make such a huge step up in his career, but to dismiss him as a flop when he hasn't even had a proper chance to prove his worth is extremely unfair and premature. Now many the portistas and sportinguistas of the world have been arguing that he was overrated since the very beginning, and while I completely agree that the media over-hyped him way too much at such a young age, no one can argue that he did not play a vital role both securing Benfica's league title and Portgual's European championship. Renato has a unique skill-set in European football: His ability to break lines and lead counter-attacks with his trademark powerful runs sets him apart from just about every other central midfielder in Europe (Mateo Kovacic though is also a world-class carrier, albeit with less brute athleticism and a little more finesse).

    Now our defense in the Bento-Queiroz era wasn't all that bad. Pepe, Bruno Alves, and Ricardo Carvalho were much younger. Fabio Coentrao was one of the best left-backs in Europe, and our goal-keepers (Eduardo was superb in the 2010 world-cup) and a younger Rui Patricio were not huge liabilities. Now a days, our center-back options are largely unchanged, which is a little worrying when you consider they are all in their mid-thirties, but our full-back options (especially at right-back) are clearly better. Joao Pereira was decent going forward, but he was always a defensive liability, and if I recall correctly, Ricardo Costa was our starting right-back against Spain in the world-cup round of 16. Our current options at right-back (Cedric, Nelson Semedo, Joao Cancelo, and Ricardo Pereira), are arguably the strongest group of right-backs in world football. Only Spain (Carvajal, Juanfran, Azpilicueta, Bellerin) can compare.

    So while you can certainly argue that some players may be a bit over-hyped, there is no denying that our current generation of players is far superior to the sides of Carlos Queiroz and Paulo Bento.

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  • Agree with you, John. Depth is far better these days. Renato Sanches is indeed a special case. Unfortunately, he is the prototype of the over-average talented young portuguese football player: Early praise, early sell. So sad, the Portuguese league cannot hold theses players for 1-2 seasons more. Renato Sanches, 18 at Bayern... But the clubs must capitalize on their youth academies. Walking on thin ice. Renato Sanches is potentially a beast as Edgar Davids used to be. Remember him playing Poland at the Euros. Swansea is the decisive point in his career. Can lead back on track or can lead to an early move to Turkey... Therefore let's at least hope, André Silva will not suffer the same fait at Milan. But he had a decent start. Joao Mario is IMO real class, but eventually more comfortable in a more central position. And and... all said. The future of the Seleçao depends from the development of it's young players -let's hope that their careers go the good way. But there's probably to much money to earn with dealing young players.

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  • Guest - joe

    I agree with the post about this generation being our deepest squad with quality and not overrated conpare with others. These guys are mostly not even in their prime at an average of 22-24, not to mention that some are often played out of position comparetively speaking with respects to their clubs.

    I like the list the contibutor compiled and conparison..I would some other points in general and specific.

    1. As i respect and congratulate Santos on his achievement thus far and am not calling for change...I do however question if he is the right coach tactically to bring the best out of this current young generation of stars. The strenngth is in the midfield/attack mid and wingers/wing backs/fullbacks. If you watched Spain who also have such depth in the same areas...they palyed with a false nine so basically 6 midfielders. In order to use the quality we have, more sophisticated and interchangeable dynamics might help and then finding the best and most balanced starting 11 is paramount.

    2. Use the players that are in best form and provide the most quality, not just the same...we saw what change and faith in players does and thats winning. Euro 2016 saw guerreiro, sanches, fonte, adrien play major roles in winning and none of these players were perviously first choice or even selected...but they provided the spark, balance and quality to win versus always using the same players despite not wining anything of note. Joao moutinho is a great player but he was a sub at euro 2016 mostly and yet I see him starting games now with players on the bench far younger, as much quality or more with more energy. For me, he is an impact player off bench at this stage as he was last year....I see some backward steps with Santos lately and he needs to be more bold.

    3. Joao mario - Inter Milan, plays as a no10 centrally alongside icardi in attack..NOT wide left...amd he has been scintillating in Serie A helping Inter with both the press! no number 10 since deco or rui costa has even come close and those are big names....Santos needs to play him centrally.

    2. Bernardo silva...monaco...enough said! Whose one.

    3. William and danilo...been alongtime since we had big strong holding mids that are still young.

    4. Wingers we have always is interesting to see how bruma, martins develop but they have bright futures should things go right.

    5. Right backs...i agree other than spain...we have the best.

    Nelson semedo, cedric, joao cancelo and ricardo pereira (who both can play winger). Left back is a question of fitness...r guerreiro proved he is world class both for us and dortmund....stay fit.....the same goes for coentrao...eliseu is surplus of they are both fit.

    Bruno fernandes....early days but good signs are there

    So much quality and at the very top of world football competitions as all are playing champions league! Minus inter.

    There are a number of other players i did not mention cuz they were not selected this time but will be major considerations come russia. R. Sanches, goncalo guedes and the center backs edgar ie, ruben semedo and paulo oliveira.

    If it was me and i was selecting and choosing my formations and tactics...this is how i would go with lets say 3 different options with all players fit.

    1. 4-4-2 diamond mid j..mario at top as a 10
    B. Silva william j.mario bruma
    A.silva ronaldo

    Subs. B.fernandes for a.silva as 10 and move j.mario as an 8
    Subs. Martins for b. Silva for pace out right
    Subs. Quaresma for bruma for crossing and width.

    2. 4-3-3

    The right side will provide defensive security and tons of pace and width that can allow b.silva to come inside as a 10.

    Subs- bruma for quaresma
    Subs-j.moutinho for gomes
    Suns-martins for b. Silva

    These subs are in the situation we are winning and comfortable.

    Lastly amd we have never seen this with selecao but give our strengths it should be considered.
    3-4-3 (3-5-2)
    Nelson semedo-pepe-fonte
    Cancelo william r.sanches r.guerreiro
    B.silva j.mario

    Subs...cedric for cancelo
    Subs. A.silva for b.silva
    Subs b. Fernandes for j. Mario

    Invert original front three diamond and play with 2 strikers and one 10 versus 2 attacking mids amd 1 striker

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  • Guest - Chris


    I think you have a point when talking about this "golden generation" being SLIGHTLY overhyped, they are not late 90's - early 00's Brazil, but they are quality players and our best collective crop since Figo and co. came along in the early-mid 90's.

    National team football isn't club football. It's not about having the World XI out there. It's about having a commitment to the manager's tactics, a chemistry within the team, and confidence. Portugal have all three. Look at Belgium with all their individual world class talents only to get shredded by Wales with a bunch of players from second division of English football. National teams are DIFFERENT than club.

    Yes, you want quality players, which Portugal do have, but you don't need your whole XI to be Ballon D'or Finalists to win. Look at Germany, France, and Argentina. Look at some of the regulars in their XI's at the moment. You could make a strong argument, based on individual talent, Portugal's XI is just as good.

    Let's start with Germany. I'll take Ronaldo and Andre Silva over Muller and whoever else is starting for Germany up top, I'll take Bernardo Silva over Ozil, I'll take William or Danilo over Khedira, the most overrated player in world football, Raphael Guierrero blows Jonas Hector out of the water at LB, and I'll take Pepe over any German CB, Hummels and Boateng both overrated as well.

    Boom, that right there is 6/5 in favor of Portugal vs Germany in terms of starting XI. Now, would I take Portugal to beat Germany in a competitive match? If I'm being honest, no. National team football isn't about individual XI strength.

    Now move to France. Are Dimitri Payet, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud, Sissoko, or Koscielny world class? No, they're solid players. Even Griezmann looks average in big games, and their starting fullbacks up through Euro 2016 were mid-30's Patrice Evra and Baccary Sagna. Is that a scary, world class team on paper? No, but their great in real life.

    Finally, let's look at Argentina. Their XI is actually rather poor after Messi and Dybala. Look at their defense. It's pathetic by world class standards individually. Romero is a back-up at club level in goal, Otamendi, Mercado, Fazio, Marcos Roja, Mascherano, and Funes Mauri can all be absolutely dreadful at the back on any given night. Their CM position leaves plenty to be desired as well. Lucas Biglia is a joke, sorry.

    As already stated, Portugal would've lost/drawn this match in prior years. Hungary bloodied it up with fouls and dirty play, yet we still got the 3 points. This is a big club season for the young players, and we need Ronaldo to stay fit of course, but this Portugal team has the manager, talent, and belief to go far next summary. The blind negativity just to be negative because our XI isn't all Ballon D'or finalists is just wrong. Again, how is Germany winning World Cups with overrated garbage like Khedira in their XI? Let's beat the Swiss, qualify, and go from there.

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  • Rated 3 out of 5 stars

    My post on Sunday which was critical of the Selecao and their prospects for the future, didn't go down to well with some contributors to the site. As a huge fan of Portuguese football, I'd like to say I got it wrong. But, I fear my gloomy prognosis is correct, and here's why.

    Let's start with the fact that 12 months after winning the Euro 16, Fernando Santos still doesn't have a clue what his best starting line-up looks like. The confusion will be compounded by Nani's return to fitness. For the big game against Switzerland, do you think Santos will gamble on playing Bernardo Silva or Gelsen Martins up front? I very much doubt it. If Nani is available then expect the front three to be Nani, Andre Silva and CR7?

    So much for the Golden Generation up front, then. Especially if, after 65 mins and it's still 0-0, Santos hoicks off a naive and clumsy Andre Silva and brings on. who... that other picture of naivety and clumsiness Nelson Oliveira? No, we'll all be praying that Santos brings on 34 year old RQ20 and shifts CR7 into the middle. To leave Portugal with a forward line with a cumulative age of 145 (give or take a year or two) which matches the cumulative age of the geriatric back line, should Fabio get fit faster than Raphael and plays alongside (the wonderful) Bruno Alves and Pepe.

    And so to midfield, where we have a choice between Danilo who can't pass the ball forward 20 yards with any kind of accuracy and William who can't run 20 years in under five seconds. The former is 26 this weekend and the latter is 25. These guys are not kids. At their age, they're as good as they're going to be. So let's not talk about their contribution to the Selecao in the future conditional tense. Yet we still don't know which one Santos will pick.

    There is only one candidate for the role of playmaker and that's Joao Moutinho who will be 31 on Friday. Santos knows he is the only central midfielder who can see a pass and change the tempo of a game (not that Santos seems to want that tempo to be anything other than flatlining).

    Which leaves us with 24 year old Joao (sideways) Mario to play the part of the link-up player. Someone in this thread has likened him to Rui Costa. Oh my goodness, if only. If only! Last season he started 22 times for a lack lustre, mid table Inter and managed three goals and five assists. After 27 games for the Selecao he has yet to score - and I'd suggest you don't hold your breath (Incidentally, Rui Costa managed an average of nearly one goal in every three games for the Selecao, and so many assists people stopped counting).

    But what's the alternative? Is there a representative from the Golden Generation challenging for his position. Ermm that would 24 year old Andre Gomes, wouldn't it. And if not him, then Santos will call up that 28 year old spring chicken Adrian Silva.

    So there you have it, the team to take Portugal to the next World Cup. And if this aged 11 gets past Switzerland, what option has Santos got but to stick with them for Russia. Sorry chaps, but I don't share your optimism about a sudden injection of confidence, maturity and, yes, talent bringing the Golden Generation to the fore.

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  • Hey Steve,

    Just a suggestion, but you may want to stop barraging everyone with all that sunshine. Too much positivity is unhealthy!

    Fernando Santos got Portugal what Coelho, Gomes, Scolari, Queiroz and Bento and countless others could never hope to have gotten us; a trophy. A very important one, and one that, for my money, is harder to win than the World Cup. But that last point is just my opinion and others may feel differently.

    The man has a competitive match record of 21 wins, 4 draws and 2 losses. So, competitive meaning all friendlies are discounted, and only matches for qualifiers, European Championship, Confederations cup and World cup. That is a 78% winning percentage. All this "best starting 11" discussion is unimportant to me. All that matters are the numbers. And the numbers pretty clearly outline the fact that he knows what he is doing.

    With respect to the "flopping" of this next generation of players, you do understand that the guys you are ragging on ("clumsy" Andre Silva and Renato Sanches), are 21 and 20. I would like you to tell us of your own personal story of perserverance and great success when you were 21. Go ahead, we will be happy to read of how you soared like the proverbial eagle to new heights of success.

    Andre Silva is a gem of a player. & goals in 7 World Cup qualification games. Yeah, real clumsy. Renato is also a gem, and while still unpolished, he has the tools necessary to live up to his hype if given playing time, which hopefully will be due to him this season.

    As for your slights on Danilo, well sir, you simply must not watch the Portuguese league, because if you did, you would know that Danilo has been one of Porto's best and most consistent players these last 2 seasons. He played well against Hungary, and he is a master of retrieving possession. William may not be playing his best footy but he is still leagues better than Miguel Veloso was (in case you forgot who our previous DM was).

    As for your other assessments, I don't want to make it seem like all your points are worthless, because there is some truth in what you say, but your arguments can be easily tailored and applied to any other national team at the top. France is supposed to have a plethora of talent at their fingertips, but could not beat Portugal on home soil. Germany have an incredible offense but look shaky at the back. Italy are always tactically sharp, but were dismantled by Spain on the weekend.

    The last thing I will say is this; all Seleccao fans suffered for almost 5 years with an incompetent manager in Paulo Bento who had one gameplan; give the ball to Ronaldo and pray something happens. He selected the same starting 11 regardless of form, ability, injury or tactics. I am sure if Miguel Veloso and Raul Meireles had retired from football and opened up a bagel shop, Bento would still have selected them for his starting 11.

    In Santos we have a manager who understands tactics, develops young players and gives them opportunities, learns from his mistakes and believes in a rotation policy to keep players fresh. Honestly, I do not understand your argument. It is not going to be an easy road, it never is, and Portugal's football may not always look as pretty as it did in the days of Deco, Figo and Rui Costa, but I don't care. Results are what matter most, and in that language, Fernando Santos and this Portugal team is very much at the top echelon. Does that mean they will win the World Cup? Not necessarily, but I will say that I favour our chances as much as any of the Germany's, Argentina's, Spain's or France's.

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  • ****Andre Silva has 7 goals in 7 WC qualifiers.

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  • Steve, if the guys you mention would give a s..t on how you judge them, they can park their football boots n the cellar. This Portugal won the Euros 2016. And yes, they dropped into the easier half of the table. But anyway you pick only the facts that may underline your in best case average team rating you decided to rate them. The ability of the team to adapt even most difficult circumstances is class. But it can only be achieved with strong cohesion. Almost ruled out by two deflected long range shots in the last group game, Portugal had to face the team which displayed the strongest midfield (Modric - Rakitic) and the most dangerous forward (Perisic). And they neutralized them. Croatia opened the game in the second half of extra time and then they did it - 1:0. What this team needs and deserves is confidence. There is still room for improvement, sure! A lot will depend on the development of the players. But most probably that the curve raises for most of them. this could end up very well.

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  • Guest - Chris


    I think your massively over stating the "age" of this team. Ronaldo is Ronaldo, and CBs can play for a while. Yes I'd like younger talent at CB too, but it's ok. Other than that the team is 26 or younger everywhere... Moutinho being 31 is irrelevant, if he's even starting.

    Guierrero, Cedric, Semedo, William, Danilo, Mario, Renato, Bruno, Bernardo, Andre Silva, Gelson, and Bruma are all 26 or younger, and Adrien is 28. Calling 28 old is just not reality...

    Ronaldo and Pepe lead from the front and back still in great form in their 30's, the rest of this team is young.

    This starting XI and squad is LIGHT YEARS ahead of WC 2010, EURO 2012, WC 2014, and should be better than EURO 2016. That's undeniable. You're talking like we're in a crisis like the Dutch right now..

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